Updated: Illini volleyball ranked 11th

Updated: Illini volleyball ranked 11th

The Illinois volleyball team will open the 2014 season as one of seven ranked teams in the Big Ten.

The American Volleyball Coaches Association released its preseason poll Monday with the Illini coming in at No. 11 after their fifth Sweet 16 appearance in six years last season.

Illinois head coach Kevin Hambly said he puts "very, very little" stock in preseason rankings.

"I don't take much stock in anything but the final one to be honest," he said. "I think it's nice we're ranked as high as we are.

"It is what it is. It's good for the fans. Maybe people will pay attention to what we've got going on and they'll check us out for the first time."

Defending national champion Penn State received 32 of the 60 first-place votes to claim the top spot heading into the season. Texas, Stanford, Southern California and Wisconsin also received first-place votes.

Other Big Ten teams in the Top 25 include last year’s national runners-up Wisconsin (sixth), Nebraska (seventh), Purdue (eighth), Minnesota (12th) and Michigan State (16th). Michigan was also among 15 teams receiving votes.

The Big Ten led all conferences with its seven Top 25 selections. The Pac-12 had four teams in the Top 25, while the Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference had three teams apiece.

Illinois will open the 2014 season Aug. 29 against receiving votes Long Beach State in the Illini Classic before playing No. 20 North Carolina the next day. Stanford (No. 3), Creighton (No. 23) and UCLA and Colorado (receiving votes) are also on Illinois’ nonconference schedule this season.

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